Unlocked: Daily Devotions for Teens

Unlocked: Daily Devotions for Teens

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200 Episodes
Unlocked is a daily teen devotional, centered on God’s Word. Each day’s devotion—whether fiction, poetry, or essay—asks the question: How does Jesus and what He did affect today’s topic? With daily devotions read by our hosts, Emily and Andrew, and questions designed to encourage discussion and a deeper walk with Christ, Unlocked invites teens to both engage with the Bible and to write and submit their own devotional pieces.
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200 Episodes

Different things can happen that leave us in need of healing. Sometimes, we are injured physically, and we know we have a long journey ahead of us. Those times can be scary, and we might fear that our bodies will not heal as they are supposed to. There are also times when we are injured emotionally, when something happens in our lives that makes us feel hopeless or scared for the future. But there is always hope. God is a God of healing. Our world is broken because of sin, but when Jesus—God in flesh—came and lived among us, He healed all kinds of hurts (Matthew 9:35; Luke 4:17-21). He took our sin upon Himself when He went to the cross, and He rose from the dead—beating sin, death, sickness, and every kind of brokenness. Pain will not have the last word. Jesus will heal all of creation when He returns. And He gives us glimpses of that healing when we come to Him. Whether we have been hurt physically or emotionally, God has a way of saving us and making things better. Even in the midst of pain, He gives us hope. I injured my finger recently. The injury was pretty scary at first. It took me a couple days to calm down and notice the healing that was already taking place. It took weeks for my finger to start looking the way it used to, but every time I looked at my finger, I saw God working. The healing that He was bringing about amazed me. Sometimes, God brings healing naturally or through the people around you— such as friends or medical and mental health professionals. No matter what you have gone through, God can heal you. Who better to turn to when you need to be healed than the One who is all-powerful? • Emily Acker • Have you ever seen your body heal from an injury, even just a small cut or a bruise? How does the way God designed our bodies reveal His kindness? • Have you ever prayed for healing, either for yourself or someone else? We can always ask God for healing. Sometimes He heals right away, other times gradually. God works in all kinds of ways—through miracles, medical care, therapy...and when Jesus returns, He will fully heal all of creation, including us! If we’ve put our trust in Jesus, we can look forward to that day (Revelation 21:4). • What needs healing in your life—a relationship, an injury, a broken heart? God knows what you’re going through and has compassion on you. You can bring your hurts to Him in prayer. God also gives healing through community (the church). If someone has hurt you, tell a trusted adult right away. O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone! Jeremiah 17:14 (NLT)

When I was a kid, I thought I had just about everything figured out. God was good. Evil and suffering were a result of sin, not a result of God. But then I got older... In the middle of my teen years, I began to see the effects of sin a little closer to home. Suffering (and every emotion that came with it) was no longer an abstract idea about the world; it became my world. An event happened in my life that ripped my reality in two. Life suddenly got more complicated. I felt numb at first. "Did that really just happen?" And then I felt mad. "Why did that just happen!?" Throw in some bitterness, relief, sorrow, and confusion for good measure and you’d have what I was feeling at the time. Doubt flooded my mind. "Am I strong enough to face this?" It was in this dark period of my life when I rediscovered 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. Paul relays a real and present struggle that torments him. He tells the Corinthians that he repeatedly cried out to God, pleading for his Lord to take the struggle away. Jesus said in reply, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (verse 9). So Paul embraces his suffering, delighting in his weakness and difficulties. He says, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (verse 10). How powerful an idea! Paul understood that, because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, we can be honest about our weaknesses and rely on Him for strength. Applying this concept to my own life, I see that, no, I am not strong enough. My situation is too heavy for me to bear. But Christ is my comforter. He weeps with me. He is my strength when I don’t have any. And He will use my experiences to His glory. And, someday, He will return to get rid of all sin and suffering permanently. • Emma Pamer • Can you think of a time you felt like a situation was too heavy for you to bear? • During painful times, Jesus doesn’t sit at the end of the difficult season, waiting for you to catch up with Him. Jesus walks with you and weeps with you. He does not abandon you—and He never will. That is why we can embrace suffering—not because suffering is good (it’s not) but because Jesus Himself endures our suffering with us, giving us comfort and strength. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

I live long-distance from my best friend, and sometimes, it’s terrible. I miss her tons, and even though we video chat often, I usually go months without seeing her in person. The Bible stresses the importance of having a good Christian community, but what do you do when a part of that community is close in your heart, but not close on a map? Take a look at John 11. Jesus demonstrated love for His friends when He visited Mary and Martha after their brother Lazarus had died. Jesus took time to mourn with His friends and listen to what they had to say. And then He performed a miracle and raised their brother from the dead! This miracle was just a preview of the resurrection all Christians will have when Jesus returns—because Jesus overcame sin and death through His own resurrection. Before Jesus ascended back into heaven, He promised His followers that He would always be with them (Matthew 28:20). As I look at Jesus, I know I can still be a presence in my friend’s life, even if I can’t always physically travel to her. Because the Holy Spirit lives inside Christians, we have a special connection with other people who have put their trust in Jesus. In a letter to Christians in Colossae, Paul writes, “For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit” (Colossians 2:5). One of the ways my friend and I stay present in each other’s lives is by praying for each other often. If I have an event that I’m anxious about, I’ll ask her to pray for me and vice versa. When we video chat, I listen earnestly to what she has going on in her life, and she does the same for me. We both offer support and advice when the other one needs it. Being friends over a long distance is difficult, but we both try to practice Christ-like love, even from far away. • Naomi Zylstra • Is there someone you love who lives far away? What’s one way you can show them that you love them? • When we miss people we love, Jesus invites us to tell Him about it. He mourns with us, and He listens to everything we have to say. How might it give you comfort to know that Jesus is this kind of friend to you? For though I [Paul] am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit... Colossians 2:5 (NIV)

In the book of Acts, there is an account of Peter being rescued from prison by God. After an angel guided him out of the prison, Peter went to a house where fellow believers were praying for his release from an unjust stay in the Roman jail. This account also tells of a girl named Rhoda who answered the door when Peter knocked. The Bible does not tell us any more details about this girl. What was going through her mind that night? It’s fun to imagine how she would have told her story... Hi, my name is Rhoda, and I am a servant in the house of Mary. We were gathered there late one night to pray for Peter. You see, Peter was arrested and thrown in prison. We were afraid the government leaders were going to have him killed. As we were praying, I heard a knock on the door. I went to answer and asked who it was. The voice on the other side said it was Peter. Recognizing that the voice was actually Peter’s, I ran back and told the others that Peter was at the door! Nobody believed me. I kept trying to tell them it was Peter until we all heard the knock again, and this time everyone went to the door, and there was Peter! We were all amazed. He told us how the Lord sent an angel to rescue him from prison. We all rejoiced and were very thankful. After I went to bed that night, I started thinking about what had happened. Why hadn’t I let the poor man in when he first knocked? We were all praying for Peter’s rescue from prison, and yet when God answered our prayers, we were amazed. After all, I remember when Jesus was going from town to town and healing people who were sick. I remember the time when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. And I remember when Jesus Himself rose from the dead! Yet we were all amazed when God rescued Peter from prison. Lord, you never cease to amaze me. Thank you for answering our prayers. Thank you that I can trust you to do more than I could ever imagine. • Doug Velting • Have you ever been surprised by how God answered a prayer? Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” Acts 12:13-14 (NIV)

My favorite verse in the Bible is Isaiah 54:10. It assures me of God’s unfailing love for me that will never be shaken and of His covenant of peace that will not be removed. It shows me that God’s love for me is more certain and stable than the mountains and the hills. Even if these are shaken and removed, God’s covenant of peace is a sure one. In the book of Isaiah, Isaiah the prophet said God would punish the Israelites for their sin. Because they did not obey God’s commandments but instead rebelled against Him, worshipping idols and acting unjustly, God would send them into exile. But then, because God is compassionate, He would bring restoration, forgiveness, and healing after the punishment. Not only would God rescue Israel from exile, but He would also send the Messiah who would bring peace and safety to Israel and beyond. The Messiah would be a light to the nations. He would suffer for sin, and through His suffering, our wrongdoings would be taken away. This verse was a m...


I like to give the things in my life names. I name my car, my plants—and I even brainstorm future pet names. Names can carry a lot of weight and significance, so what does it mean that God calls Himself "I AM"? In Exodus 3, God speaks to Moses through a burning bush that—miraculously— does not burn up. When Moses asks God what His name is, God replies, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you...The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation” (verse 14-15). When God uses the name "I AM," He sets Himself apart from any other god the Israelites may have been worshipping. This is not a god of fertility or the sun, this is the God who rules over everything. This is the God who existed before the Israelites were even a people, and He will continue to exist after they rebel against Him and...

The city of Atlantis was real. My forehead pressed against the thick glass window of the submarine, and I could only gape as the shining city came into view. The best we could have hoped to find was the crumbled ruins of a once great city, now resting at the bottom of the ocean. We never could have anticipated this. The city was fully intact, safely enclosed inside a clear dome that protected the buildings, vegetation, and people from the freezing water of the ocean’s depths. The captain of our sub made contact with the natives of Atlantis, and they welcomed us into their city through a special double-door chamber that drained all the water from around our vessel so we could breathe the sweet air inside the dome. The city was bright and colorful. Flowers grew along the bustling streets filled with people laughing and selling goods like fresh produce and clothing. Children chased each other through the crowd, not a care or concern on their faces for the darkness that lay just outsid...

I grew up studying in a religious school. My parents were respected in our small town. They were kind, generous, and accommodating. I looked up to them, and I loved helping the needy. However, I did something terrible when I was a teenager. I ended up bullying a poor classmate of mine. She was silent as a lamb. She did not retaliate. I did not see her angry. I was not aware that I was already bullying her. I just thought I was making fun of her. One day, I came to realize that what I did was wrong. I realized I was hurting and shaming her. I was guilty of bullying. I was troubled and upset by what I had done. I realized I was being insensitive and narrow-minded. That hit me hard in my conscience. Regret followed me, and I was not at peace. Joy left me. I said to myself, "I should not have done that. I am not perfect, but I am compassionate, or so I thought." Even after acknowledging that I had bullied someone, it was hard for me to forgive myself. What do you do when you mess up? Co...

I’m twenty-eight years old, and one thing I wish I would have known about God as a teenager is that He made me unique and special. I was born three months premature, and I had a stroke at birth. I’ve struggled to gain weight ever since. Kids would be mean to me and call me anorexic because of how skinny I was. (Anorexia is a very serious eating disorder that should never be joked about.) I would try to explain my situation to them, but it never seemed to help. Everyone would either laugh at me or say that I was lying about my story. It got to the point where I just stopped explaining myself, and I wouldn’t say anything when the kids in school made fun of me. I felt embarrassed and ashamed of myself. I wish I had known sooner that God made me special and unique in His own specific ways. I know now that God made me on purpose, and He loves me deeply. He loves me so much that Jesus became human to die for me and rise from the dead, defeating sin and death so I can live with Him fore...

"Am I fake?" Has this thought ever crossed your mind? You are not alone. When someone decides to become a Christian, they might be surprised to discover they still struggle with sin. Even if they are working hard to follow Jesus and reshape their life choices and patterns, mess-ups inevitably happen. Trials come. The old you may be tempted to join in with thoughts and actions that don’t honor God. But the new you (with Jesus at the center of your life) wants to reject your past and strive to live in God’s good ways. This can feel like an internal battle. Because the world is broken, we experience hurt every day, and it’s easy to become enraged, bitter, or apathetic. The way we react to these struggles— whether with hatred, a fiery retort, or impatience—can leave a burning question in our heart: "Am I a fraud? Why am I so upset? I’m supposed to be a Christian." Don’t despair. This is perfectly normal. The apostles were tempted and had imperfections—think of Peter’s fiery tem...

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